Donations are either delivered to me, or picked up by us and transported to the "Processing Center", the garage in my house. Most items are delivered in bags. The bags are stored in the black cart for sorting, or on the floor for temporary storage.

Cars have no place here from early April until the end of July while the garage becomes a donation processing center.

(Picture: April 27, 2008)

Step 2 - PRE-SORTING: 

Items of which I expect only very few go to the pre-sorting area. Rather than start a box for these items, I wait until I have enough to make reserving a box reasonable.

Items that have a smell, e.g. clothes treated with mothballs, are separated from other items.   Clothes are hung up and "aired out", appliances are cleaned.

Empty bags and cartons are collected under the pre-sorting board until they are collectively recycled.

(Picture: April 27, 2008)

Step 3 - SORTING:

Donations are expected for quality along this sorting shelf.

Torn and permanently stained clothes as well as damaged appliances and articles deemed unsuitable for delivery to the reservation are removed.  Such items include clothes with imprints promoting alcohol, offensive logos, or books and videos of unsuitable content.

Items that have a smell, e.g. clothes treated with mothballs, are separated from other items.

(Picture:  April 27, 2008)

Step 3 (continued):


Items that reek of mothballs are hung up and aired out separately from other collected items.   For that purpose, "Mothball Alley" was created in the rear section of the collection center (my garage).

If the smell persists, these clothes are not taken to the reservation.  A local charity may treat them for distribution to needy people in the Greater Philadelphia area.

(Picture:  April 27, 2008)


The number of donated shoes and boots was much higher in 2008 than in previous years.  Raincoats (on top of the heap in this picture) were also given in large numbers.

This pile grew steadily over the following weeks. Eventually, shoes were separate from sneakers and boots and separated by gender and boxed up.

(Picture:  April 27, 2008)

Step 3 (continued):


Jackets and winter coats take up a lot of space, don't fold particularly well, and are best stored hanging for as long as possible.

I started this row of hung up coats in April of 2008.  By the end of June I had more donations of this kind than I could fit there.

Eventually, all of these coats and jackets were packed up for the trip to the Pine Ridge reservation.

Step 4 - WEIGHING:

Filled boxes are closed, numbered and taken to the scales. The empty space a filled box leaves behind in the sorting area is immediately filled with another empty box.

Weighing each box separately is necessary for transport planning purposes.

This method allows for the time-efficient sorting of large quantities of clothing and has proven itself effective again this year.

(Picture:  April 27, 2008)


Step 5 - LABELING:

Empty boxes are labeled to indicate future content.
For example, "wiċaśa" (sounds like "we chu sha") indicates this box contains clothes for men, and "owaniyetu" (sounds like "o wa knee yeh two") indicates these clothes are suitable for wear during the cold winter months.

The label on the right shows the box number, the year of the collection, and the weight in pounds.

Labeling boxes in this manner not only helps during the sorting process but also during the final distribution.

Step 6 - Computer:

The box number and weight is entered into a spreadsheet on a computer that will eventually help determine how, or in which vehicle this particular box will be transported to the reservation.

Weight should be distributed evenly from side to side.  Weight limitations may need to be observed.

Step 7 - STORAGE:

Labeled and weighed boxes are stacked for storage.

Boxes must not be "overfilled" as overfilling leads to leaning towers of boxes, and must not be "underfilled" to avoid the crushing of boxes stored at the bottom of a stack.

Boxes remain on shelves and stacks until they are loaded for the long journey to South Dakota.

Step 8:

Boxes are distributed among the vehicles so that they are safely balanced.

Consideration is also given to available space in the Jeep as we want to have the Jeep available as a people transporter on the reservation as soon as possible.

Step 9:

The next step is the 1,750 mile journey from Southeastern Pennsylvania to the Pine Ridge reservation in Southwestern South Dakota.

For more information on the route, click here.

No picture published
out of respect
for the people
who come to distributions
and seek assistance.

Step 10:

On the reservation, boxes are unloaded at one, or more distribution points.  Interested parties can pick up needed items.

Deliveries to some residences in the outer districts can only be made by 4-wheel drive vehicles, or by horses.  I do not personally make deliveries that "deep" into the reservation.

Step 11:

Items we are not able to personally distribute, are usually picked up by members of the CAP, a community service, and distributed to people in the outer districts.  My contacts on the rez coordinate the CAP pick-up.

Copyright 2009